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FISKE V. KANSAS, 274 U. S. 380 (1927)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Fiske v. Kansas, 274 U.S. 380 (1927)

Fiske v. Kansas

No. 48

Argued May 3, 1926

Decided May 16, 1927

274 U.S. 380


1. A decision of a state court applying and enforcing a state statute of general scope against a particular transaction as to which there was a distinct and timely insistence that, if so applied, the statute was void under the federal Constitution necessarily affirms the validity of the statute as so applied, and the judgment is therefore reviewable by writ of error under § 237 of the Judicial Code. P. 274 U. S. 385.

2. The inquiry then is whether the statute is constitutional as applied and enforced in respect to the situation presented. P. 274 U. S. 385.

3. This Court will review the finding of facts by a state court where a federal right has been denied as the result of a finding shown by the record to be without evidence to support it; or where a conclusion of law as to a federal right, and a finding of fact, are so intermingled as to make it necessary, in order to pass upon the federal question, to analyze the facts. P. 274 U. S. 385.

4. A Kansas statute defining "criminal syndicalism" as

"the doctrine which advocates crime, physical violence, arson, destruction of property, sabotage, or other unlawful acts or methods as a means of accomplishing or effecting industrial or political ends, or as a

Page 274 U. S. 381

means of effecting industrial or political revolution, or for profit . . ."

and punishing any person who "advocates, affirmatively suggests, or teaches the duty, necessity, propriety or expediency of crime, criminal syndicalism, or sabotage" was applied by the state court as covering a case where it was charged and proved merely that the defendant secured members in an organzation whose constitution proclaimed

"[t]hat the working class and the employing class have nothing in common, and that there can be no peace so long as hunger and want are found among millions of working people and the few who make up the employing class have all the good things of life. Between these two classes, a struggle must go on until the workers of the world organize as a class, take possession of the earth and the machinery of production, and abolish the wage system. Instead of the conservative motto, 'A fair day's wage for a fair day's work,' we must inscribe on our banner the revolutionary watchword, 'Abolition of the wage system.' By organizing industrially, we are forming the structure of the new society within the shell of the old."

Held: that there being no charge or evidence that the organization advocated any crime, violence, or other unlawful acts or methods as a means of effecting industrial or political changes or revolution, thus applied, the statute is a violation of the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. P. 274 U. S. 386.

117 Kan. 69 reversed.

Error to a judgment of the Supreme Court of Kansas which affirmed a conviction of Fiske under the Kansas Criminal Syndicalism Act.

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